Official: American Is Eliminating 24-Hour Ticket Holds Tomorrow

Filed Under: American

About 10 days ago I posted about the rumored changes coming to American’s ticket hold policy. Rumor had it that as of April 1, 2016, American would begin allowing ticket refunds within 24 hours of booking. This contrasts to their currency policy, where they let you hold a ticket for up to a day (in practice up until midnight the following night), but they don’t give you a grace once the ticket is issued.


Either policy satisfies the Department of Transportation’s requirement that airlines offer consumers 24 hours to change their mind on tickets.

Personally I loved American’s hold policy, since I could lock in tickets speculatively, and then if I didn’t ticket them they’d automatically cancel. Meanwhile many airlines with a 24 hour refund policy make you jump through hoops to cancel (like having to call).

Back when I first posted about this rumored change, an American spokesperson confirmed that they were considering changing the hold policy, but hadn’t reached a decision yet.

Well, it’s now official, and a decision has been made. Starting tomorrow, American will replace their current 24 hour hold policy with a 24 hour refund policy. Here’s what American had to say:

I wanted to let you know that we’re switching to a 24-hour refund instead of 24-hour hold. It goes into effecttomorrow, Friday April 1 (no, it’s not an April Fool’s joke). Customers will still see the 24-hour hold option on for the time being, although that is temporary. Our policy to meet the DOT rule, which applies to reservations made via a call center or (or any other American Airlines channel) is the 24-hour refund.

There’s no change for booking AAdvantage award tickets – the hold option remains for those.

We’re making the switch to minimize the customer confusion that arose sometimes because our policy was different from those of other airlines.

I figured it’s worth specifically calling out that American’s policy isn’t changing for award tickets, where five day holds will still be possible.

Bottom line

It’s now official that American is eliminating free holds on revenue tickets, and instead replacing them with 24 hour refunds. I’m sad to see this change as a consumer (since I loved the ease of holding a ticket), but I also can’t blame American for making this change. If I were running an airline I’d probably do the same.

  1. 3 days ago I wanted to hold a revenue ticket for 24hrs – there was no such option anymore on the website. I called AA, they told me it was no longer offered. So despite AA announcing the change happening from this Friday, they already introduced it a few days ago.

  2. @ Daniel B — Was the ticket for travel within seven days of departure? If so, that’s why, because they’re not required to offer it within that timeframe. Holds are definitely still a thing as of now.

  3. I have a ticket on Etihad First A388 booked/ticketed months ago with my wife. Just my wife’s ticket just got reissued on April 1st, 2016 (tomorrow) – but everything looks exactly the same. Anyone else have this happen?

  4. Do you have any sources from AA that can back up a rumor mill that there will be a few additional devals for certain routes going up marginally, like USA to Middle East/India Business class from 70K to 85K by the end of the year.

  5. @ Award Flyer — I haven’t heard of any further devaluations. I highly doubt they’ll happen anytime soon.

  6. @ Daniel B – were you using the mobile version of AA’s website? I’ve noticed there is no hold option on AA mobile. I put a ticket on hold earlier today on the regular website, so it’s still an option.

  7. To DJ,
    No, the regular website. But as Ben pointed it out, the reservation I wanted to make was within 7 days (please see his comment above). Thanks

  8. Super disappointed that this is getting changed. It was a unique feature that I successfully used often to place hold flights while firming up business appointments. I’ve also used the hold during fare sales (not mistake fares) to double check my long term schedule against trips.

    Now we have to actually buy the ticket, and then call and request a refund when plans fall through? Gonna cost customers and ticketing agents a lot of time and grief. Cancelling a 24 hour hold was extremely seamless with the click of a button.

    Big bummer.

  9. Please clarify the rule for me. Does the 24 hour refund rule apply to tickets for flights less than 7 days away?

  10. Really annoying. I use this feature a lot. Seems strange they’re removing it when they only just introduced the ability to hold the fare for longer than 24hrs at a charge,

  11. AA is the absolute worst airline when it comes to issuing refunds. I’ve had at least 5 different Record Locators where agents didn’t process the cancellation correctly and I had to spend hours chasing the refund. This is simply awful. Their IT sucks and this is going to make us feel more pain.

  12. Again you can’t seem to blame American for anything, despite this being a customer unfriendly move.

  13. They neglected to mention that they won’t be allowing 24 hour cancellations within 7 days of travel. Those are final purchase.

  14. From a business point of view, it makes more work and cost for AA to process a refund than to simply have a 24 hour hold that requires no attention from AA.
    Like others, I use it to confirm my schedule at destination. I’ll still do that, just give AA a little float with the cash. Still sure the cost is higher than the float can earn

  15. this helps me out my corporate travel booking tool never offered the hold, and I was not permitted to use the direct book option.

  16. Does this mean one can cancel tickets within 24hrs when booked less than 7 days before travel? Or is it still no refunds if travel is less than 7 days away?

  17. My guess is that they are doing this so they can roll out a system like BA has, where they can charge for a 72 hour hold, and apply the hold fee to the ticket price. BA and AA seem to be aligning on many things recently, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see an announcement of something like the BA hold system within a year.

  18. Btw Ben,
    Currency policy sounds strange. I believe you should rephrase it as ticket hold policy on revenue tickets…

  19. I’ve noticed the BA-style hold for a fee for 3-7 days offered intermittently, I guess they were beta testing the feature. Not surprised, but definitely annoyed by this. Good luck getting a refund from HP dba US dba AA.

  20. Not surprised to see it going away as they appear to be moving to a model that charges for revenue ticket holds.

    Not that I trusted the hold anyhow (was burned by China price error).

  21. I just put a flight MIA-LAX on hold for 24 hours. Today is April 4th.
    I also have a confirmation from AA stating its on hold for the standard “til Midnight of following day” (April 5th). Thank goodness because it makes my traveling planning with clients very flexible and easy.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *